Remembering the summer of '77

What happened to the big group family holidays? I still see people who return to Rye and Rosebud shore each year. There are groups consisting of three or more generations but in general it has become more a part of the past.

Holiday 77… One of the last real family holidays as I recall…




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Some days are picture perfect, when the sand is washed clean reflecting the sky and the sea is like silk. Not only the place, but the time is one I wish I could return to. Ten of us went on holiday. There was endless food to prepare and wet sand-logged trousers to dry.

Travel was in a transit van with Grotty our dog on my lap, his face a picture of pleasure. I would arrive covered in blonde dog hair and have to cope with an over excited dog vomiting grass in the lounge. His perpetual happiness at being with us was a joy, for now I know those last holidays when the children were not quite grown up were the best. The time when we actually spent time together. We rented a house and took my parents too, for them it was a brief respite from the daily struggle to exist and the last time they both enjoyed good health.

We used to take the dog for long walks in the early morning and look out across the smooth water from the cliff top. Then we would return to cook bacon and a dozen eggs. Dad would be there with his first cigarette and cup of tea scanning the racing pages of the daily paper. Later we would go off to the town to buy huge pieces of beef to roast and let Dad put his bets on.

The boys would go to the slot palace or saunter about in their bell bottomed jeans trying to impress the local talent. I sat with Mum in the garden turning my skin dark in the sun, wearing a faded denim dress and not knowing I would never be that thin again in my life.

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As Mum dozed in a chair the crash of waves and the humming insects made a lullaby. Kerry our daughter spent her time in the surf with her girl friend, and worried us when she stayed out late a few times. For us it was the first sign of the turbulence of teenage life, a taste of the sleepless nights we would later know.

Yet, mostly the holiday in that summer of ‘77’ was a precious time. I have photos and videos to remind me. I can even recall the taste of the unique cake made at the beach kiosk. The famous Puttsborough fruit cake. The sand dunes and the wide sweep of empty sand, dipping my foot in warm puddles the tide left behind, little jewels of time hidden away in the recesses of memory, to be taken out and polished.

There was the crazy night when Mum and I drank Tequila at the hotel, as we watched the sunset. Later we both collapsed with the giggles and had a difficult time getting down the steep beach path. The boys spent their time having play fights with their mate Craig. It was an innocent time, before they learned the tricks of the world, before they became too greedy or too reckless. It was the last real holiday, the time when we were a family for the last time.

Sometimes we aren’t aware that things will change, that life will never be the same. Yet for me there are a few that stand out. One morning when the children were all under ten, I woke to hear them all singing a song together. It would be so good to revisit that time. Instead it is just a memory, but at least in my head I hear them and they are forever those three kids happy on a Sunday morning.

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Photo:  muuranker